UniServe Science News Volume 18 October 2001


Research and Development into University Science Teaching and Learning Workshop

The Research and Development into University Science Teaching and Learning Workshop was held at The University of Sydney on Friday April 20, 2001. The workshop was attended by 59 academics representing 21 institutions.

The keynote speakers were Professor Dick Gunstone from the Faculty of Education, Monash University, and Dr Marjan Zadnik from the Department of Applied Physics, Curtin University of Technology. Professor Gunstone's address was on the theoretical aspects of how the kind of teaching development that good university teachers carry out can be turned into research outcomes. Dr Zadnik's presentation covered the ways in which he has successfully linked his teaching and research. As it turned out Professor Gunstone was ill on the day and his paper was presented, most ably, by Ms Susan Feteris from the Department of Physics at Monash University.

The contributed papers covered a wide range, both of subject matter and disciplines - the transferability of mathematical skills, the effect of simulations on learning strategies in chemistry, peer group learning in biochemistry, assessment strategies in physics, the use of constructivist methods in geology, the large scale evaluation of educational resources, and exploration of student and staff perceptions and specific teaching strategies in experimental laboratories.

An innovation this year was the introduction of a 'Show-and-Tell' poster session. There were 8 posters contributed. An hour was set aside for formal poster viewing. Each author was asked to give a short, 5-10 minutes, talk to whomever wanted to hear; and to repeat this every quarter of an hour. This session was well received.

The winner of the Pearson Education UniServe Science Teaching Award for 2000 was Robert Davidson, Charles Sturt University, for his project: MRI Concepts: A CD-ROM based teaching tool. Robert's paper appears in the workshop proceedings available at This award for 'teaching that improves student learning outcomes via the innovative and integrated use of information technology' was launched at our workshop in 2000. There were 13 entries in 2000, and the judging panel: Professor Bob Hewitt (chair), Professor Shirley Alexander (UTS), Dr Roy Lundin (QUT) and Mr Shane Donnelly (Pearson Education Australia), had an extremely difficult job in making the final decision. For more information about the award see

Feedback from participants has been very enthusiastic - academics see this event as a great opportunity to 'hear about all the great things that are happening in science teaching and learning', 'hear how projects are going - both what works and what doesn't', and as always 'making contact with others in the field'.

An important decision we made this year was that the contributed papers could be peer reviewed. The workshop proceedings are available at

A bibliography was prepared for this workshop and distributed to all attendees. It has been included (in pdf) as the Resource Page in this publication.

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UniServe Science News Volume 18 October 2001

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